FanFiction by Lady Lorelei the Tarot Goddess

Warning: Please note that some stories may be rated NC17. If you are under the legal age of adulthood in your country of residence, or if you are offended by the idea of slash (stories containing male/male sex) or adult themes, including BDSM and other sexual kinks, please go and find something else to read.

Title:  Reunion

Rated: NC 17

Pairing Harry/Neville, mention of Harry/various Muggles, Neville/various Muggles

WC:  11,534

Woobies of Destiny Wave 2, Challenge: #112. Long after the war and all, Harry is a penniless alcoholic. Perhaps he was injured as an auror during the war, or in a professional Quidditch match. His savings is squandered. He's on the Muggle dole, while Neville is very well to do, having patented many hybrids with healing properties, or some such. In Muggle London for some business, Neville sees Harry passed out under a bench.

Also counts as Nevillosity Challenge #5 Healing.


Neville was disturbed by the eerie familiarity of Harry not quite telling the truth.


Notes: 1) Please excuse my US viewpoint. I'd love to visit all parts of the UK. If I get a plane ticket can I come stay with you?  2)Whoa, this grew way bigger than I’d intended. In fact, in order to come to a conclusion I had to cut scenes wholesale. 3) Men don’t carry purses, they carry ditty bags. 4) I deviated from the challenge a teency bit, but that's OK since I submitted this challenge! 5) Like Jack Daniel’s, Ogden’s comes in various grades, black label being the best, green label being the cheapest.

Disclaimer: Characters hers, prose mine.

Special thanks to beta  nekowrimo for quick and helpful turnaround,  and to Scribbulus_ink for offering the WOD FQF and being such a sweet encouraging person!



Scene 1 -  August 2008 - The weekend of  Harry’s 10 year Hogwarts reunion


 “Sweet Merlin, Neville,” Harry murmured as he slid his slick dripping cock into the hot tight opening beneath him. “You feel so good.” He wanted to go slow and make it last but soon he was pounding away, drawing soft moans and cries from that luscious mouth with the too-wide teeth. The tongue tangling with his own only excited him further. Their bodies moved in rhythm, tightly bound at the hips, though sliding in sweat. Harry gripped the shoulders beneath his fingers more firmly and let his teeth fasten onto his lover’s neck. It was that neck, along with the hair, and the mouth that attracted his attention earlier, distracted him.


Soon. He knew he was coming soon. Harry loosened the hold of his teeth and reached his right hand between them to grip at the stiff cock. His lover’s broken gasps became sharp cries and they both tumbled over the edge. Harry came with a terrific shout torn out of him, out of the uncontrollable depths of his soul, “Neville!”


After a few drowsy moments of utter bliss and soft kisses, Harry rose and began searching for his small clothes, absently casting a cleansing charm over himself. He was late for the reunion in Hogsmeade. So late, but he just couldn’t refuse that shy little grin. Couldn’t help himself when that mouth with the slightly over-large teeth smiled at him so welcomingly, so invitingly.


“Not much for cuddles, eh?”


Harry regarded his lover with an apologetic smile. “Sorry. I’ve got an appointment. I’m already late.” He finished dressing quickly. Still not sure he wanted to see his old classmates, but knowing the rumors would be worse if he failed to show.


“Take care, then,” Harry said awkwardly, standing by the door.


“Name’s Nigel, mate,” he said with a raised eyebrow. “See ya’ ‘round, eh?”


“Yes, of course,” Harry paused at the door. “Maybe next weekend.”


He rushed down four flights of stairs and jumped into the back of the waiting Rolls. “Hogsmeade, Colin.”


“Right you are, Harry!” Colin Creevey called cheerfully as he dropped the book he’d been reading, started the car, and pulled into the darkened street.


Harry pulled the cabinet from his pocket and engorged it to normal size, then reached inside for the pills. One for energy, two to calm the shakes, four for pain, one for depression, and one for tranquility. He washed them down with firewhiskey from the tiny wet bar nestled in the seat back facing him, then reduced the cabinet with a negligent wave of his hand and returned it to his pocket. The excess of magic he had used and been abused by at the end of the war left him open to it, like a gaping would that wouldn’t heal, his nerves constantly jerking and tingling from it, on fire from it, in pain from it. He sat back and tried to relax. Tried to forget how every bloke he picked up happened to have softly curling brown hair, big teeth, a bumbling manner, and a charmingly embarrassed grin.


Then he remembered, “Shite!” He was supposed to cut the doses back. His money was running out, and those happy pills didn’t come cheap. He’d have to fire Colin come Monday, while he could still give him a severance package. First thing Monday he had to see his solicitor about selling the manse. Maybe he could sell his wand, since he didn’t need it for magic anymore. Then he remembered, he’d sold his wand some time ago, along with his broom, his invisibility cloak, his dark detectors, and all the gifts bestowed upon him by a grateful wizarding public after his defeat of Lord Voldemort. He shuddered as the pills began to kick in and push the memories away along with the realities he couldn’t face.


Harry let his head sink back into the fine leather. He really didn’t want to go to this reunion. And it would just about kill him if a certain Mr. Longbottom were there.






Neville’s head jerked at the delighted squeal. He watched as Hermione Weasley strode across the hall and carefully placed her arms around Harry who was soon enveloped in a cloud of excited inebriated Hogwarts alumni. Neville winced at the hearty backslaps, knowing Harry’s nerve damage couldn’t take such rough treatment. But Harry didn’t seem to mind. Maybe he had healed after all. It’s been ten years. And then again, maybe it was the way he sucked down every drink put into his hand, like it was water after a long Quidditch match.  Neville counted three drinks in thirty seconds. Then he saw a wince. Nope, the damage was still there.


“Whatcha thinkin’ ‘bout, love?”


Neville closed his eyes and forcibly rammed the grimace back down before it could reach his face. Merlin, but this was wearing, like he couldn’t have a private thought or a moment to himself without sharing it. He turned and smiled at Carlisle, realizing that it was in fact Carlisle that couldn’t generate an independent thought or opinion.


“Remember I told you about the man that killed the Dark Lord and saved us all?”


“That’s him?” Carlisle asked in disbelief, looking over to where Harry greeted another round of wellwishers. “But you said he’d been all beat up and couldn’t lead a normal life or anything.”


“That was ten years ago, love. And I said he couldn’t play Quidditch. He had standing offers from professional teams, but the spell damage he took was so great,” and now Neville’s drink shook in his hand, remembering the blinding light of so many Death Eater curses raining down on Harry, slamming into him like a tsunami of hellfire, and Harry standing like a mythical champion in the midst of it, roaring with his own power and determination to stop the Dark Lord. Neville remembered columns of stone ripped from the ground and slamming into that small dark haired body, again and again. Lightning bolts of dark magic. Dumbledore hadn’t survived. Harry did survive, but at what cost. He remembered the devastation in Harry’s face at St. Mungo’s, after he’d learned that he could fly, but only very carefully, and only if he was chaperoned. “ . . . well, he couldn’t play Quidditch anymore, or do a lot of the things he was used to doing.”


“Well, he looks great!”


Neville smiled indulgently. He couldn’t help but agree. Harry wore Muggle clothes, a silk suit and tie. A white shirt set off all the dark slate blue that glimmered with a silvery sheen. “Would you like to meet him?”


“Sure, but not with that great crowd. Let’s wait till he sits down. Maybe he can join us here.” Carlisle blinked with hopeful raised eyebrows.


Here at a shadowed table in the back because Carlisle was intimidated by being a Muggle amidst so many magic folk, here because Carlisle wouldn’t dance, even on the slow songs, here avoiding everyone at his own bloody 10 year reunion because he was so whipped by a good shag, a kind touch, an affectionate smile. Neville could hardly believe himself sometimes.


He reached into his ditty bag and extracted quill and parchment.


“Watcha doin’?”


Neville ignored him and penned a quick note then folded it into an origami crane. He breathed a charm into it then sighted across the hall where Hermione hadn’t left Harry’s elbow, took careful aim, and let fly.


Carlisle squealed in delight as the paper crane flapped up high then glided down to land in Hermione’s hair. As he suspected, Harry’s Seeker reflexes snatched at the note before Hermione could do more than squawk.


Suddenly Neville was drowning in golden green effulgence. Harry’s eyes grabbed him from across the hall and pulled him in, disappearing the distance that separated them for an instant. Harry smiled and nodded, then turned to his admirers again.


Neville took a deep breath and tried to ignore the tug he felt somewhere behind his left set of ribs. He turned to his companion. “He’ll be here in a bit. Go and get us a bottle of Ogden’s black label and 3 glasses, would you, love?”


Carlisle looked surprised. They’d been sipping butterbeer all evening. But he went off on his task all the same. He did what he was told, that’s why Neville kept him around. Carlisle made himself useful. But the clinginess, the neediness, along with the lack of intelligent conversation . . . Neville didn’t know how much longer he could take it. He started to hope Carlisle would find someone else or get tired of the wizarding world.






Neville drank in the sight before him. He resisted the pull of effervescent green eyes that called to him across time, across distance, that haunted his dreams and taunted his nightmares. He concentrated on how sunken they were and the network of tiny pain lines surrounding them, the unhealthy puffiness further out, and the sallow skin tone. Then he realized he’d inadvertently looked through a glamour. Blinking, Neville allowed his vision to revert to the reality Harry wished seen, a healthy glow, no wrinkles; all happy tight firm flesh.


They regarded each other till Carlisle returned with three glasses. “Sit with us. This is my boyfriend, Carlisle Weathermaker. Carlisle, Harry Potter.” Neville reached across and took Harry’s hand gently in both of his, the approved greeting taught for severely spell/nerve damaged patients that he’d learned during his internship at St. Mungo’s. Poor substitute for a hug, but the hidden lines around Harry’s eyes spoke volumes to Neville. Harry was likely to bolt at the next comradely slap on the back. “So how have you been? What have you been up to?”


“You first, “ Harry huffed out a breath as he sat down heavily. “I need a break from . . .” he waved behind at the crowd of onlookers who’d followed in his wake, but were too polite to badger someone who’d just turned his back on them.


“You look great!” Carlisle squealed in excitement.


“Thank you,” Harry said, appearing a little embarrassed. “You do too. Neville’s very lucky.” He met Neville’s eyes with a question.


Neville decided to answer. “I’m doing quite well. You know I got patents on some of my discoveries and inventions.”


“Yes, all that potion and plant work you did after the war.”


“Right. Well, some of them had Muggle applications. I met Carlisle while setting up business contacts with the Muggles.”


Harry nodded. Answer received.


“He’s been a tremendous help to me. You know Muggles don’t care about age if you’ve got a great invention. So I’ve been concentrating there for the last few years. But now that I’ve got a little age on these bones, I’m thinking about setting up an apothecary across  from  Whiver and Spleech.”


“What!” Harry exclaimed. “That’s on Knockturn Alley!”


Carlisle jerked in his seat at the exclamation. He followed their conversation like a spectator at Wimbledon.


Neville’s eyes danced in delight. “Yes, I know. Spleech, the old fraud. His herbs are moldy, his magical ingredients are faked or cut. He doesn’t rotate stock, doesn’t clean his shop. It reeks you know. I could drive him out of business in a year. Then buy his shop and take it over.”


“But Knockturn . . . wouldn’t you rather be on Diagon, or here in Hogsmeade?”


“No, not at all. For the work I intend to do, you know: the research and experimentation, handling controlled substances and all; Knockturn will suit me just fine.”  They exchanged mischievous grins.


Carlisle, obviously feeling left out, said, “Now what about you Harry?  Where’s your date? You missed the picnic. You’ll be at the boat ride tomorrow, won’t you?”


Harry blew out a breath. His grin disappeared. “Let’s see . . . Martha sent me packing . . . uh, not long ago.”


Martha, Neville checked his memory. Hadn’t Hermione told him Martha was Harry’s girlfriend 4 years gone? Maybe this is a new one. Still, Neville was disturbed by the eerie familiarity of Harry not quite telling the truth. His heart fell at the thought. Why could he not reach out and let Harry know he was trustworthy? That he cared? That it didn’t matter, whatever it was. And what would Harry want or need with that? the sour voice of self-esteem demanded.


“And I couldn’t get here any earlier from Easter Island. Flight delayed, you know. You know I can’t apparate since . . . Anyway, I want to rest tomorrow, then I have several appointments in London next week. Then I really want to see Sri Lanka. Absolutely loved India when I toured the subcontinent a few years ago, but I didn’t have time for the island. Oh hello –“


Harry was cut off abruptly by a rather severe looking Susan Bones who hissed at him urgently. “Your solicitor cut us off and said I needed to speak to you directly, but wouldn’t tell me how to find you. You know we need that money. The orphanage is barely making ends meet.”


“Of course, Susan. Terribly remiss of me. I’ll have a word with him next week. How much to tide you over? Quill, Neville?”


Neville handed over his quill and parchment in mortified silence. This is why no one ever saw Harry anymore, the endless requests for money, for interviews of his side of the story, for sponsorship, for endorsements. Everyone still wanted a bit of the Boy Who Lived. Even Colin, Harry’s chauffeur, had published a book of photographs he’d taken of Harry. Neville kept his copy of "The Boy Still Lives" in pristine condition.


“Take this to Gringott’s Monday morning, all right?”


Susan peered at the note and grumbled something under her breath as she left.


Harry reached for the bottle of Ogden’s and awarded Neville a bright smile. “Now tell me all about these plant and potion business endeavors of yours. And I want to know how Carlisle managed to capture you. I’d heard from a little bird that you’ve become quite the man about town.”


Neville felt blood rush to his cheeks as he started detailing his most notable accomplishments of the last few years to the only audience he’d ever hoped to impress with them.




Harry’s hand shook as he poured himself a drink. He left it to Neville’s squeeze to serve himself and Neville. Neville had made it clear that’s all the man was when he’d begun speaking. Just after he’d looked right through Harry’s glamour and the age and weariness he’d seen there hadn’t affected the worshipful acceptance one little bit. Harry shuddered again at the kind non-judgmental regard he in no way deserved. The pills and alcohol dulled a lot, but for some reason, he’d always been more sensitive to Neville. After the events of the war, once Harry had become so open to magic; and after over a year of seeing Neville daily at St. Mungo’s where he interned more because of his gentle volunteering hands, than his magical medicinal plant study; Harry had become attuned to the field of magic surrounding Neville’s body. And here it was again right in front of him, touching his own magical field, mingling with it around the edges in the gentlest, easiest, most insidious of ways. Another way Harry knew Carlisle ultimately meant nothing to Neville was how their energetic fields didn’t overlap one bit. Even with a Muggle, the aura, or energy field began to interlink with one’s lover and friends. Hell, his overlapped with Neville’s more than Neville’s did with Carlisle’s. And they hadn’t been lovers for years. Since before the final battle.


“And he said, ‘Y wanna go hear the Weird Sisters?’ An’ I thought, sure, why not? Sounds like a good band.” Harry watched Neville watching Carlisle recount their courtship. The pain was dull enough in this moment that he could remember back to the fierce crush he’d had on the Boy Who Also Lived. Neville had been a staunch friend, understanding him more than anyone else, and having absolutely no agenda during the war, their last two years at school. The crush continued during Harry’s time in St. Mungo’s, rarely acted on because he’d been too busy and too crazy, and approached by too many girls during the war; and because he’d been too weak, too sick, and in too much pain for years after. And has anything really changed since then? That little evil unacknowledged voice that lived in his brain sneered. That was the problem of course, nothing had changed at all. Not the pain, not the raw nerve endings both physical and magical, and not the immature schoolboy crush quality of his lust for Neville Longbottom. Ten years. You really are a dope. He’s right in front of you, say something!


But of course, Harry said nothing. Neville had done well, better than most. And Harry wasn’t going to screw that up. He’d tried his best and a lot of people who depended on him had died, or lost loved ones, or limbs, or their sanity. A whole slew of people who depended on him for money were about to lose big come Monday. And that wasn’t going to happen to Neville. He’d made it through fairly intact, whole, sane. As long as he never became entangled with one Harry James Potter, that would remain so.


“Ah, that’s so sweet,” Harry smiled as Carlisle wound down his story. “You look great together.”


Neville rolled his eyes where Carlisle couldn’t see. Harry well understood his own reasons for seeking non-magical lovers, but he wondered at Neville’s.




Scene 2 – August 2009, 1 year later in London


“Ah, will you look at that?” the bobbie commented to his patrol partner.


“Disgustin’ in’it? I say, ain’t we rousted him out twice this week already?”


“Yeah. Hey you! Git up! No slouching on the queen’s greens now. Git up. Git it movin’.”


Harry gripped the booted toe that tapped at his side and sat up quick enough to knock his head on the bench he was sleeping under. Memory clicked into place. And not far behind came the shakes, the pain, and the memories.


“Just a nap on a nice day,” he grumbled. “No harm. No worries.”


“Git up, or we’re takin’ you in!”


The offer was tempting: a nice cot, free food, maybe even a shower. Of course he could unlock the doors and leave whenever he liked but they wanted ID and took photos, and he’d have to obliviate the lot of them, which would bring the Ministry of Magic down on him. No, it was time to move on. Maybe even leave London. He’d heard the pickings were good down in Dover in the summer even if you had to fight the bloody seabirds for them.


Harry shuffled slowly from the park over to the kitchen, wincing as the slight breeze jangled the nerves along his exposed skin. The ground pushed spikes into the soles of his feet. His hat squeezed his head like a vice. He’d missed the breakfast porridge, but was grateful for a sandwich. It tasted like cardboard in his mouth. Cardboard and ashes. He craved sweets. What he wouldn’t give for a Fortescue Sundae. But he’d given that up when he let everything slip away. The sale of the manse paid off most of his creditors, but Gringott’s along with the Muggle credit companies refused to extend credit without a work history or any assets. He didn’t want to work. He just wanted another bottle to dull the pain. He couldn’t think through the pain. All the time now, lines of fire tingled along each limb and pulsed into his brain.


Ignoring the row of seats, he walked over to the half torn calendar on the wall. Mid month. He couldn’t collect another check for a fortnight. He sighed as he swallowed the last bite. The sun was unbearably bright as he headed over to Piccadilly Circus.


At high noon there was no shade. Harry tried to judge where the sun was headed and picked a bit of concrete that might be in shade eventually. He pulled out a penny whistle and sat down, placed his hat in front of his crossed legs, and began to play the few tunes he knew. Pence trickled in. With any luck, he’d soon have the three Euros needed for a half pint of pure grain. Then, when he played the whistle, it wouldn’t cut like a knife into his own ears.




“It was a group effort really,” Neville said around another bite of Fortescue’s Seven Sundae Surprise. Blue sparks shot out his nose to the amused gurgling of Hermione’s baby daughter. “Three of us got awards for the liver renewal potion, and there were ten as contributors for the neuro-spell-damage repair.”


“Still, it’s a great achievement,” Hermione said enthusiastically while nibbling delicately at the tiny sundae she allowed herself for the occasion. She had to watch her intake, what with her second child on the way. “I bet you are the youngest of the recipients.”


“Well, that’s true,” Neville blushed.


“And that cloak!” Hermione gushed. “That must have cost a fortune. What is it made of? You must have it charmed.”


“Gods yes, in this heat! They said formal dress and as you say, I am the youngest, so I wanted to impress. The cloth is spun from the down of milkweed pods and Madam Malkin insisted on this shade.”


“It’s perfect, Neville.” She regarded the subtle shifts from blue to grey to brown to green. “It’s hazel, to match your eyes. You look quite dashing, honestly.”


He grinned. “A bit of frippery. Dunno when I’ll wear it again. Cost a pretty Galleon, but I can afford it now. Finally things are coming together and beginning to pay off. All those grants. Just when I’d given up hope, they’ve started raining in. And contracts too; both Muggle and magical.” He took another huge bite. This time purple sparks shot out of his mouth as he breathed out the coldness. “When’s the baby due? I want to shower it with presents from Uncle Neville.”


“As long as we have your presence, too,” she returned his grin. Unspoken was the sorrowful absence in both their lives. Absences, of course. But between the two of them, it was Harry’s absence that seemed to draw them together through the years.


“Are you content Hermione? I must say, I didn’t expect you to end up a housewife.” He said it gently, but was dying of curiosity.


“Yes actually I am. And I never thought I would be here either. It’s not the end, you know.” She swirled fudge into ice cream. “I had such ambitions, and I achieved all of them. The laws for house elves and magical beings, as well as Muggles. I learned so much of the healing arts. I still research you know. But making a child,” she met his eyes earnestly, “that’s one bit of magic they don’t teach in school and you can’t learn in a library. I am content. I mean, I’ll keep my hand in on things, and I have plans for when the children are grown. But now is the right time for having a family. I’ve surprised myself with how happy I am.


“And what about you? You had that gorgeous creature on your arm at the reunion. . . . and I’ve seen that strapping lad watching the counter in your apothecary.”


“Oh yes, I do seem to have quite the luck with the boys,” he admitted with a smug smile. He got laid often. It wasn't hard to walk into a gay club and be friendly. “Not so lucky finding someone to converse with over breakfast the next morning, though.” And more and more, that’s what Neville wanted. His smile turned sardonic.


Hermione rolled her eyes. “These things you’ve got the awards for, can they help Harry?”


Neville concentrated on carefully choosing the next bite of his sundae. How to phrase it? Helping Harry had been the whole point after all. “Yes, I believe so,” he replied evenly. “I tried to get him to volunteer for the trials, but he wasn’t interested. He’s hard to get ahold of.” Impossible, in fact, for someone of Neville’s stature. But you’re rising in the world now, he strictly reminded himself. Got to keep working on that self-esteem thing. Two awards of merit for Contributions to the Healing Community of Wizardkind. Contracts to keep his store open for a year. Grants for three years of research. Nice clothes. Surely he was good enough to converse with Potter now.


“Don’t I know it!” Hermione exclaimed, cutting off his musings. “Hedwig stays with me now.”




“Yes, I thought it was because she liked all our owls and magical creatures, you know, but then Harry sold his place.”




“He put it up right after the reunion. I asked him about it. He does answer my owl occasionally. Said he was tired of living in such a big place. I asked him to invite me for the housewarming at his new place and he said he was busy traveling.” She shrugged. “But he could try your medicines now. Shall I send Hedwig to him?”


Neville thought furiously. Drilling Hermione on the best way to contact Harry had been the motive behind this little luncheon get together. The award ceremony at the Ministry had given him a convenient date.


“I need to talk to him face to face.”


Hermione took a deep breath as though steeling herself to say something difficult. “Neville, I’m so glad you’re here. I – I think that you and I are all Harry has.”


Neville snorted. Him? All Harry had? Harry would have to be homeless and begging on the street before that ever happened. Harry could have anyone, and from what he’d seen when Harry first left the hospital after his wounds healed all they were going to, did have anyone, and everyone. His sexploits were legendary. Witch Weekly referred to him as "The Boy Who Loved" for quite some time.


“No listen to me.” She clutched at his arm with one hand, the other full of baby girl. “I went to his solicitor here on Diagon Alley. This was months ago. He hadn’t answered the letter I sent with Hedwig about this one’s first birthday, and about getting pregnant with number two. How could he miss his godchild’s first birthday? So anyway, I tried to get information from Mr. Sleazle and he pled client confidentiality. But . . .” she held Neville’s eyes, “I got the distinct impression that all Harry’s money is gone.”


“Gone? But . . .” Neville didn’t know what to think, but his mind kicked into overdrive. Well yes, the inheritance and award moneys might eventually give out if one spent them recklessly on first class Muggle flights because one could no longer apparate, and 5 star Muggle hotels because one wanted to avoid the wizarding paparazzi, and gave to every orphan and widow left by Voldemort and the DeathEaters, including some Death Eater families. He sighed.


But anyone would have gotten a job before all the money was gone, and anyone in the wizarding world would give Harry a job. Hell, they’d give him a place to stay for free. Neville would, if he’d known. He sighed again. But Harry wasn’t normal. Everyone, the whole world had relied on him, who had he ever relied on? Did he even know how to ask for help?


“You have to find him Neville and get him to take these new treatments.”


“Fine, but how do we find him? You know magic won’t do it.”


“No, he feels it miles off and stops it cold. We can send Hedwig. That’s all I know to do. Keep sending Hedwig.”


But Neville knew that wasn’t good enough. “Great Scott, look at the time. I’ve got another ceremony this afternoon. It’s a Muggle reception for a grant I got months ago. I’ll let you know what I find out on Harry. We won’t give up, right?”


“Right. Thanks, Neville.”


Neville bussed her cheek then swept off down Diagon Alley, his luxurious cloak billowing out behind him. He entered the Leaky Cauldron and took it off as he strode through the building, shrinking it and stowing it in his pocket. Midwinter he’d have worn it to the Muggle affair, but it would cause too much confusion in the heat of summer. Whistling the Hogwarts school song under his breath, he stepped out the Muggle door of the Leaky Cauldron and hailed a taxi.


Traffic slowed to a crawl at Piccadilly Circus so he hopped out and walked up Lower Regent Street to Waterloo to the British Academy of Medical Sciences. The street buskers were out in force but he had no time for the wonderful live entertainment. Piercing strains of a penny whistle playing Loch Lomond slow as a funeral dirge seemed to haunt his hurried steps. 


Oh ye'll take the high road
and I'll take the low road,
An' I'll be in Scotland afore ye'

Neville hadn’t understood why a lone bagpipe had played it at all the wizarding funerals until Hermione explained that it was one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s soldiers about to be executed who was taking the low road, speaking to his comrade in arms who was released to return home along the Scottish highlands. Too many took the low road in the war with Voldemort. And there were some, Neville’s thoughts turned dark, who taking the high road, never found their way home.


Later, pleased with the day, Neville decided to walk back down toward Piccadilly and grab something to eat, hoping to catch some more of the fiddle he’d heard earlier. Spellbound, he stopped and listened to a hammered dulcimer until the musician took a break. Neville hurriedly searched through his wallet for some Muggle money to toss in his box. Fish-n-chips smelled inviting, but the Sundae Surprise still sat heavily on his stomach. He strolled on, then stopped again, mesmerized by a man who sang a nonsense song while strumming a mandolin and beating a xylophone with his feet. He threw him a bill too and continued his stroll.


Far off, no it couldn’t be. He heard the penny whistle and it sounded like the Hogwarts school song. His heart pounding, Neville tried to walk calmly toward the sound. He saw the same small waif playing the penny whistle. Dark hair falling over glasses. Threadbare T-shirt and faded jeans like all the buskers. He moved closer, a horrified dread growing within. He stopped himself before the whistle player noticed, and turned away to find an inconspicuous spot from which to observe. The Hogwarts school song repeated over and over in endless melodic variations. Neville watched in shocked disbelief as Harry stopped a few times and took bills out of the hat in front of him and shoved them into his pocket. He sipped from an invisible flask that he kept tucked in his waistband, under the shirt.


Neville fairly panted with anxiety. He couldn’t imagine confronting Harry like this. He prayed inside that Harry was doing undercover Auror or Unspeakable business. But he knew it wasn’t so. He remembered the sheer volume he’d drunk at the reunion. What to do, what to do? He wanted to cast a tracking charm and follow Harry to his home, but Harry would immediately notice and defeat any charm. And he might not have a home to be followed to. Well, he’d finish up here sooner or later. Neville sighed. Okay. He had a plan. He’d wait till Harry stopped playing the godforsaken penny whistle! And approach him then.


And say what?


All right, Harry? Nice whistle there. How’s life on the streets?


Neville began cursing a blue streak in his mind. If Harry was a stray dog he could put a leash on him, lock him up and force feed him potions for his own good. How was he going to convince him of anything? He’d never convinced him of anything before, had he? And while we’re at it, where had he, Neville, been for the past ten years while Harry went to pieces, falling down so far as to be begging Muggles for money for his next drink?


Unless Neville was tremendously mistaken and this was all some illusion. Oh Merlin, how he hoped for a logical explanation! As the sun set and the penny whistle played endless refrains of Amazing Grace and Loch Lomond, Neville began to get an idea.


Finally. Finally! Harry put away the whistle and gathered up his hat and stood. He stretched. Neville waited to see which way he went then followed him. He allowed several minutes to go by before catching up and jostling the smaller man.


“Oh sorry, I didn’t . . . dear Merlin, can it be? Harry, is that you?”


“Neville!” Harry exclaimed, jumping in surprise. “What are you doing here?”


“I had business in London today. Just wandering now. Actually I’m kind of tired. If you’re not busy, why don’t you come over to my place for supper?” And then he threw down his ace. “I’ve got a nice new bottle of Ogden’s I’d love to open with you.”


Harry licked his lips. “That sounds grand Neville. I was just taking care of some business myself today.”






Harry was suddenly conscious of his own stench. He’d been trying to ignore the niggling sensation of delightful magic that tickled the furthest reach of his alcohol dulled senses for the last half hour. Now he realized it was Neville in the area, and he hadn’t been paying attention. Suddenly everything came into sharp focus, the sunburn itching his arms and face, the sore spot on his ass from sitting on concrete for hours, the stench of his own bloody unwashed body.


He miserably followed Neville into a taxi. He’d get a shower first thing. Well no, getting naked at Neville’s might not be the best idea he’d had in a while. He sighed and laid his head back, relieved that Neville seemed content to prattle on about his latest inventions and awards.


“And I’ve got some at home, so you can start the regimen tonight, all right?”


“All right,” Harry agreed before he realized what Neville had said. He tried to backtrack, something about potions for nerves and organs. Great, just what he needed, foul tasting potions to make him barf up his hard earned liquor. Why in the world was he in a taxi going home with Neville? Because Neville had asked, and Harry couldn’t resist when Neville asked. That’s why he stayed away from Neville. He was powerless to resist.


They exited the taxi in front of an overgrown picket fence that stretched off a ways to either side. A hundred yards past, Harry saw a stone cottage. As they passed through the gate, Harry winced against the wash of magical wards accepting his presence.


“What have you got into now?” Neville commented sourly to the three cats winding about his legs. “Do you mind, Harry? I’m late for their dinner. Wanna help?”


Sure,” Harry answered and followed Neville down a flagstone walkway past flourishing gardens of Merlin knew what, into a barn-like structure. Neville flipped a light switch and proceeded to pinch out food into several large aquariums filled with green mossy looking growths, frogs, tadpoles, fish, and toads on lily pads.


 “See that bin? Could you fill the pans from it?”


Harry did as told and noticed the riveted attention of six cats now, focused on him.  The cats dove in and began crunching before he managed to stow the food away again.


“Thanks mate. That’ll hold ‘em now, while we get supper. Would you like some tea?” Neville inquired as he switched the light off again and looked to Harry in the glow of the magical lights illuminating the aquariums. Harry observed how he kept his face carefully blank, refusing to allow his horror at Harry's condition to show. Pared down to bare bones he was, with that odd shade to his skin and hair gained from exposure to the elements. Wrinkles knifed the skin of his face.


Harry nodded, taken aback by the feeling that he didn’t belong in this place with the wholesome clean smells and swirling earth magic of growing things, the vitality of the cats and frogs, the domestic routine. He was unclean, damaged, forever cast out of such peaceful scenes.


He followed Neville to the stone cottage beginning to dread meeting Neville’s housemate. He took a seat but then left it when Neville disappeared into the kitchen to boil water for tea and pull things out of the cold box for a meal. Harry felt drawn to the liquor cabinet instinctively. He helped himself to a decanter of some brownish liquid along with a glass. Neville pretended not to notice the liberty when he brought out the tea tray, and simply got himself a glass. Harry filled it, as Neville filled their tea cups.


“Hang on!” Neville exclaimed, jumping up to catch the phone. Harry heaved a sigh as the deep brown liquor settled his nerves. He added sugar liberally to the tea and alternated sips.


“I’m glad you called, I’ve got to cancel. . . Sorry. . . No, I don’t know when. Sorry.”


Neville returned from the other room. “Just one more thing,” he said moving rapidly across the living room. When he opened the door and slipped in, Harry caught a whiff of rodent and the chirp of birds. It was some time before Neville returned and Harry felt himself drowsing despite the distressing hum of magic along his nerves. Every time he came in contact with magical folk he was jarringly reminded of why he spent more time in the Muggle world.  Wizards surrounded themselves with spells the more they lived in the same place. Wards for protection, automatic lights, self cleaning spells, food fresh or frozen spells. Their tools and books had magic, their pictures, their plants, their animals. It all buzzed around Harry and he was too tired to sort it out, much less combat its negative effects on him. He filled his glass again and sank lower into the seat.


“Here we are!” Neville’s cheerful excitement brought Harry upright, blinking. “This is what I’ve been rattling on about.” He placed two small vials on the tea tray in front of Harry. “I’ve already measured them. Go on, drink up! This one’s for replenishing the nerve sheath, and this one counteracts dark magic damage. There’s a third for liver damage but you can’t have any alcohol while taking it. There are several more for general and specific healing that we can start you on tomorrow, but I don’t have them here at the house.”


Harry cocked an eyebrow at Neville’s earnest face. If he didn’t watch himself he’d soon be drowning in those sincerely well-wishing eyes, losing himself in that encouraging smile. And that wouldn’t be good for anyone. The last time he’d hurt Neville and walked away, he’d sworn there would never be a next time. He took a breath and downed the potions one after another. They weren’t that bad. Bloody good in fact. Very sweet. Then he gasped as their magic hit him. It started in his middle and sped outwards. Every last bit of him unraveled then reknit itself. He fell back on the seat as a cool pleasant sensation washed over him. It wasn’t something new entering. It was the endless tingling, fingernail-on-the-blackboard, stabbing pain leaving that overwhelmed him. Relief and ease poured through his limbs like a sweet molasses. The magic once again surrounded him naturally, at ease, like it hadn’t  . . . well he never remembered feeling this good. He was light as a feather, alive and vital. He could feel his breath entering his lungs without hurting, the blood pounding in his veins with no pressure. He groaned and sighed and gasped as his muscles loosened and relaxed for the first time since the war, since he’d killed Voldemort.


He came to himself and realized his head was cradled in Neville’s lap. His hair was softly stroked by Neville’s hand. “Please Harry, say something. Are you all right? Should I call the Healers?”


Harry laughed and then spent a minute being astounded at how loose and light his chest felt. “Oh Neville. I’m better than all right. I’m brilliant!” He reached up and pulled Neville’s face down to his for a light kiss. “You’re bloody brilliant! The world is bloody brilliant!” He sat up then, drawing away from Neville who was panting now, presumably with worry. “I’m all right.” Harry said in a calmer tone, but the magic thrummed through him in a healthy wholesome way, in wave after energetic wave. He had to get away from Neville. He couldn’t be trusted around someone so good and pure and wholesome. No, this was the temptation that he feared above all others, that there would come some excuse for him and Neville to work closely together; and he, being weak and needy and inherently base would reach out to that purity and inherent goodness and given time, corrupt it, ruin it, darken it, even kill it. Like he had with others, in the past.


He turned in his seat to face Neville again. “I feel like I could apparate, like I could fly.”


“You can Harry,” Neville said moving to the other side of the table. “You have to take the potion every 12 hours, but you should be well enough to do whatever you want.”


“Probably costs a pretty bit, eh?” Harry scratched his ruffled hair and looked around the room, anywhere but at Neville’s swirling eyes.


“You don’t worry about the cost. I’m glad to brew it for you.”

”No charity, mate.” Harry said shortly.


“The Ministry provides for veterans.”


Harry just rolled his eyes.


“Right, well, we’ll talk more in the morning. Let me check supper.” 


Harry blew out a relieved breath as Neville left the room. Finally, he was able to adjust the hard-on that lay twisted and trapped in his jeans. Now there’s a way to thank your nurse, although he knew it was a medical symptom of returning health and alleviated depression. He felt jittery in a wholly different way; his nerves sung with energy and vitality. He vibrated in the chair and wanted to get up and do something. A tap at the door saved him from rearranging the tea tray for the 5th time. He opened the door and an owl flew past him and headed for the kitchen.


“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Neville said storming out into the living room. “That bloody prat says the books don’t match and he’s quitting. Tonight!” he looked at Harry. “You’re in no shape to go with me. You need to just stay here and relax. Listen. Supper’s done. Eat as much as you like. Sleep here. Help yourself to everything, I don’t know when I’ll be back, but we’ll talk more in the morning. And get you started on your regimen. Okay?”


“Okay Neville. Thanks for everything.”


After watching Neville leave, Harry ate, took a shower, and then started prowling around the house with restless energy. It was too fucking easy. He borrowed a few things and apparated away.



Scene 3 – The Next Morning


Neville filled the cat bowls and dropped powder in the aquariums in a foul mood. He’d gotten no sleep at all. The bumbling oaf he had running the cash drawer at Longbottom’s Leaves and Sundry on Knockturn, had met a friend of the band who promised him a job with the Weird Sisters. Gods! Who’d want to roadie for those has-beens? So he hadn’t balanced the drawer for the last week and hadn’t told Neville he was leaving till his last day. Furthermore, the git wanted his check three days early, complete with holiday pay! Neville set him straight on that one; told him to see Gringott’s next week. And made the prat sit there while Neville went through the accounting, then took inventory, then made him sweep up.


The sun began rising as Neville rolled out the hose and turned on the sprinklers. With that done, he headed in to clean out the bird and rodent cages. Now that Harry was living with him, maybe he should move them out to the barn. If he took care with the doors, the cats couldn’t get in to trouble them. Neville stopped in his front room, a tiny foyer that lead into the living or sitting room, where they’d had tea last night. Something was off. He realized Harry was gone just as he noticed the empty liquor cabinet. Neville quashed down a brief spike of panic that some robbers had broken into his house. He did a quick search and faced the fact that Harry himself had taken the potions, the liquor, and every bit of cash, both Muggle and magical.


Hands shaking, he put the quill back in the inkwell. Hermione wouldn’t know how to deal with this any better than he did. The problem was keeping Harry confined long enough to dry him out from the Muggle alcohol and long enough to the let the potions do their work. And who or what had the power to hold Harry Potter, the greatest wizard alive, against his will?


And what right had Neville to hold Harry against his will in order to cure him? Harry didn’t want any help. But Neville’s hands started shaking and tears started leaking from his eyes. He saw the deterioration. He saw how bad Harry looked. He was dying, slowly to be sure. He might have another 50 years left, which as a wizard was a drastic reduction, but he was dying just the same. Neville gulped as he forced himself to face the truth, that Harry was slowly killing himself.


OK, so what are you going to do about it? How are you going to hold him down and force him to take his medicine? He will hate you for it, but for once in your life, be a man and do what’s right. And if it ends up backfiring in your face and not working, at least you tried.


And then Neville got an idea. A long shot. A crazy misguided plan. He headed toward his greenhouses for cuttings to give him an excuse.



Scene 4 – Hogwarts, days later


After a delightful visit with Professor Sprout and a brief meeting to ask for permission from the Headmaster, Neville headed down to the pear portrait entrance to Hogwarts School kitchens.


“Uh hello,” Neville stammered as the portrait swung open and he found himself confronted by 4 tiny house elves in various dress, from an old stained tea towel, to a bright orange satin pillow case. “Uh, is Dobby here? Could I speak to Dobby?”


With a tiny pop of house elf apparation, Dobby, in all his bubble-eyed glory appeared before Neville, swept off his stack of knitted caps, and said, “We is at your service Mr. Neville Longbottom!” After replacing the stack of hats, Dobby grabbed Neville’s hand and led him to a chair in a small alcove, just barely separated from the hustle and bustle of the great kitchen.


“Dobby! I’m so glad I found you!”


“And Dobby is so glad you found him!” the elf answered with a grin.


“I have a question and a favor.”


“We is helping any way we can!” Dobby bobbed his head enthusiastically.


Neville almost balked at the sincere face glowing at him. He’d thought long and hard about how to phrase this. He wasn’t any good at subterfuge and he hoped Dobby would understand and see it his way. “I need to know if . .  .”  and then he hesitated. There was no good way to sum it all up. “You know how badly Harry was hurt in the war?”


Dobby’s eyes became concerned. “Yes, we is knowing the great sacrifices made by Harry Potter.”


“Yes, well I’ve got a cure for him now. It’s been through trials and everything, but you see, he is so bad off that he won’t sit still to take his medicine. And I can’t hold him.” Neville looked to the ceiling to catch back the tears that wanted to gather. I can’t hold him. He blinked several times. “I was hoping that house elves had the power to hold him while I treated him . . . but I don’t even have any house elves. So I wanted to ask if the magic of the elves could hold him at my house, and also, where I can get some house elves,” he ended lamely holding his hands tightly on his lap.


Dobby’s eyes seemed to intensify. “You is having your own house now, sir?”


“Uh, yes, Dobby. I mean, I have to make the payments, but it’s my house. Is that all right? If I need to I could shift some money around and pay off the house now. Tell me what I need to do.”


“Dobby is coming back. Wait here. Not moving is you.” And with a snap of his long knobbly fingers, Dobby was gone.


Could it possibly be? Did Dobby know how to get him some house elves? He’d asked all over the Ministry and gotten nothing, but that they had to be registered. He knew they weren’t for sale, and that they served the family that owned a house. But he hadn’t penetrated further into the mystery and was relieved to remember and find Dobby.


Neville spent a few uncomfortable minutes gazing about the kitchens, while seeing a scene from St. Mungo’s played out in front of his mind’s eye. He’d watched as weeks turned into months and Harry’s body so very slowly threw off the worst of the spell damage and his bones finally healed. He’d lost so much to Voldemort, but the hope that it would some day all be over and he would be allowed a normal life was what kept him going. Neville remembered the day Harry learned he couldn’t fly, remembered the last light of hope leave Harry’s eyes.


“Here he is,” Dobby announced. “Mr. Neville Longbottom, please to meet Ferry and Penny. They is your new house elves.” Turning to the small couple, he said, “Here is your new master.” Neville regarded the elves, speechless. Their clothes were immaculate, tiny pants and shirt and jacket for Ferry, tiny dress and bonnet for Penny. They were so much more slender than Dobby, Neville wondered if they were the very young of their kind.


“Are you ready to take house elf vow?”


Neville shook himself back to the here and now. “Yes, yes of course, if they’ll take me. They haven’t even seen the house yet. It’s only a cottage . . . on five acres.” He extended his hand first to Ferry who looked to Dobby, and only at his nod did he grasp and shake Neville’s finger.


“Is it true, sir? You is friend of Harry Potter and you is helping him to save our world from He Who Must Not Be Named?” Ferry’s voice was quite high pitched compared to Dobby’s. Penny stood behind Ferry and trembled.


“Why yes,” Neville smiled. “Yes I am, and yes I did. But that was years ago. And now . . . now, Harry Potter needs your help. Did Dobby explain?”


All three elves nodded.


“And Dobby will come help with everything!”


And so he did. Once back at Longbottom Cottage, Neville directed the elves in helping him move the aviary and rodent pens out to the barn, and in readying the room as a guest bedroom. He was gone often to check his labs and businesses interests, but home every evening. He greatly enjoyed the new level of cleanliness in his home and the lovely meals prepared by the elves.


“Now I just have to find Harry and bring him here,” Neville remarked to Dobby one evening after tea. They strolled along the flagstone paths among Neville’s many gardens.


“But Harry Potter is close by. We thought this is why Neville Longbottom has come to Hogwarts, for Harry Potter is sleeping in the Forbidden Forest.”


“Take me to him!” Neville demanded. “No wait, let me get some things first.”



Scene 5 - The Forbidden Forest


The shakes started even before he woke up. The potions were gone; the money was gone. Harry grabbed up a bottle of Ogden’s and took a swallow. Pain knifed through his brain. Why wasn’t it going away? He swallowed again. He only had a couple more bottles, but maybe it was time for his next check to come in. Time to get back to the Muggle world. The money he’d borrowed from Neville was gone. It had kept him in Ogden’s green label for a while. Half a bottle and the pain was hardly dulled, almost as if his body remembered the relief it had gotten from the potions and now it wouldn’t be fooled by half-measures.


“Damn you, Neville.” Harry murmured.


“Damn you too, Harry.”


He waited a breath, then dared to roll out from under the log where he’d been sleeping and staying. Neville and three elves stood waiting.


“Go ‘way Neville. Beat it. Just give up. I don’t want anything from you,” he said wearily.


“C’mon up then.” Neville pulled on both hands, forcing Harry to stand. “A few weeks is all I ask,” he said evenly. He reached in a pocket and brought out a glass vial. “I’m not giving up on you, and neither are they.” He tilted his head to indicate the three house elves.


“NO!” Harry yelled. “I won’t do it! I don’t want false promises.”


“This isn’t a false promise,” Neville said steadily. “This is a real cure. Let me treat you for six weeks, then you decide.”


“It’s a potion and potions wear off. You said I’d have to take it for the rest of my life.”


“Yes, this one,” he held the vial in front of Harry’s eyes and waggled it so the liquid sloshed back and forth, a mini ocean swell. “You have to take it every 12 hours, but the others you stop at some point. This one coats the nerve sheaths. This one takes away the pain and makes you feel good. Good enough you don’t need that rotgut.”


“Maybe I like this rotgut!”


He saw Neville clench his jaw. A sharp snap drew his eyes toward where Neville forced the lid off the vial with his thumb. He didn’t see Neville’s other hand come up and grasp his hair, forcing his head back. His outraged protest turned quickly to gurgling and gasping for breath, when Neville upended the potion into his open mouth.


Harry prepared to lay into Neville with every foul-mouthed curse he’d learned on the street but that feeling hit him right between the eyes and he started to fall as though pole axed. That giddy, floating, cessation of the fingernail-on-the-blackboard perception of every day reality flooded his mind. The sharp jagged edges that tore his nerves to shreds every moment of every day were simply gone, and in their place: a soft floating away on a feathery cloud, warm breezes, and wholesome smells. He felt Neville’s arms around him supporting him; saw Neville’s eyes staring into his own. The feeling was too damned good. His headache was gone. All the pains and aches and hurts inside and out were instantly no more. The sunlight didn’t hurt, the barely perceptible magic fields of everyone around him no longer grated.


“Longbottom Cottage,” came a whisper in his ear, and then he was spinning in the thrall of apparation.


His brain, as though to provide an excuse for the glorious sense of well-being thrilling from each and every nerve ending, created a scene to explain the overwhelming sensations of pleasure, (which were in truth nothing but the ease of the pain that wracked his every waking moment since the final battle with Voldemort). Harry found himself wrapped in Neville’s arms, and legs, thrusting into Neville’s center. Fucking his dear, sweet, precious Neville. Like back during the war, like back in the student dorms, but not like that innocent fumbling. No. This was real. This was permanent. He was fucking the man he loved, the man he couldn’t live without. The man he’d been dying without. Pounding into the body beneath him, giving, and giving all his love and magic and everything he had, until that moment when they both tumbled over the edge and gloriously he heard -




His eyes snapped open. He sucked in a deep breath and tried to find his balance. His place in the world. -- Not fucking Neville.


“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Neville grinned conspiratorially as he made sure Harry was standing on his own before letting his arms fall, and stepping away. “My mum and dad . . .  well, it made them feel a whole lot better . . .” he trailed off in embarrassment.


Harry reached for his power of apparation, and found it blocked. He reached again with the power to pierce any wards, and again was blocked. Meeting Neville’s eyes, he realized Neville had done something to keep him here. “Please Neville,” Harry whispered in desperation. “Let me go. Walk away from me and don’t look back.”


Neville’s eyes widened. He tried false cheer. “Don’t be silly. Look, I know everything is strange. But we’ll have you fixed up in no time, right as rain.”


Harry felt his resolve weaken. “No Neville, it’ll never be right for me. It’s not right for me to be here, with you.” How could he explain how wrong it was for him to take advantage and use Neville for his own pleasure, as he was so very close to doing? He’d always used Neville for his own desperate need to feel human, when he wasn’t. Never had been normal or human or good or kind or anything like what Neville deserved. Harry knew his presence would ruin Neville’s peaceful successful life, like he’d ruined the lives of everyone else who drew too near.


“Look Harry, I get it that I’m not good enough for you. Hell, even the Dark Lord thought I was second best in the prophecy.” His false laugh was followed by determination. “This isn’t about me. It’s about healing you.”


Harry felt he’d been slapped by the words he couldn’t quite process. Neville thought his reticence was because . . .?  “No, no, no Neville. It’s not like that. You’re too bloody good for me. Don’t you understand? You deserve everything you’ve got here: your boyfriend, your plants, your shop, your laboratories.”


Neville’s eyes narrowed. His lips grew thin. “My boyfriend left me,” was all he said before turning on his heel and walking to his bedroom. He shut the door quietly.


Harry ran to the front door and tried to open it. He reached with his power and yelled, “Alohamora!” Nothing happened. He quickly ran through every other opening and unlocking spell he knew. Utterly perplexed he stepped back and regarded the door with his own brand of evil eye.


“Begging Harry Potter’s pardon, but is you wanting something to eat?”


Harry snapped his head toward the kitchen door and regarded the tiny being. “No, Harry Potter is not wanting anything to eat. Harry Potter is wanting out now. So you is best opening the fucking door.”


With a squeak the house elf disappeared back into the kitchen and Harry found a seat in the living room. Damn Neville Longbottom and his watery blue eyes that never stayed the same damn color. He’d probably gotten the house elves just to keep Harry prisoner. A snort broke his confused musings. Would Hermione approve? He couldn’t decide whether to find a drink, throw himself against the door until he passed out, or go shag Neville senseless. Hmmmm, maybe he’d get the elf to bring him strawberry ice cream. So many options it took his breath away, where mere minutes ago he’d had no options at all.


And there it was again. The thought he refused to think. Oh, what the bloody hell, why not trot it on out here in the open, just for a moment? The cessation of pain, while dizzying in its pleasure did allow for clear thinking and so Harry began to think about suicide. The slow suicide he’d been committing for the last 11 years was really the coward’s way. Weak willed. Blown about by fate, but wasn’t that the sum of his life? Blown to smithereens by fate, whisked from one catastrophe into another, somehow surviving, but never really living. He’d always been caught up in his responsibilities to his friends, to the wizarding world, so that he’d never learned about his responsibilities to himself, until it was too late and he could no longer face them. He didn’t want to face them . . .




Ah, now there’s the catch. There’s the rub. With Neville, with the soft souled lover of his past, he wouldn’t be alone. And why the hell was Neville still hanging around anyway? He had lots of boyfriends. What did he mean by that crack? His boyfriend left him. He’d said it like it meant so much more than the latest Pete, Matt, or whoever he’d been on the phone with the other night. Harry'd never forget the broken look in Neville's eyes that last time he'd left him. Said mean hurtful terrible things . . . and then left him.


Harry dragged his mind back to the central question. Now that he’d decided to actively consider it, he could permit no distraction. Nope, not gonna think about soft earnest adoring eyes. No contemplation of how fully and firmly that frame filled out, and how it might feel to curl himself around it, how it would taste on his tongue, how that wealth of flesh would feel under his fingers and between his teeth.


Only the damn potion talking! Harry tried again to focus. Life or death. Life was so hard and painful. Not at the moment, of course, but in the long run. Harry knew he had no ambitions to be anything. He couldn't be pissed to care one way or another whether he slept under a log or in a bed. He just didn't care. He’d met his destiny, performed as advertised, end of story. He was finished. He couldn’t write another story. And what about death? Well, he didn't really know. Its lure was more the virtue of it being not-life, not-decision, not-goal, not-responsibility, not-pain, not-hurting-the-gorgeous-wonderful-soul-who’d-always-been-there-for-you because you were just too much of a fuck up when it really counted.


Harry closed his eyes and hung his head in defeat, no closer to an answer. He looked up at the sound of the door. Neville strode purposefully toward him.


“Harry, goddammit! I need you!” Neville stood facing Harry where he sat on the couch. His hands were clenched at his sides, tears gathered in his eyes. “I can’t do it anymore! I won’t stay away, and I can’t let you go without telling you how I feel. I love you, damn you to hell! And if you hate me for keeping you here and healing you, then, so be it!”  He huffed for a moment, before turning away.


But Harry caught his hand. “Thanks.” He really was grateful that the choices and decisions were taken out of his hands for the present. “You deserve better.”


“But I don't want better!" He shouted, and then realized there was no more need. He gasped a few breaths then continued at a more reasonable volume "I just want you.”


“You’ve got me.”


Neville stared at their hands - Harry’s still held his - as though to move would somehow negate the truth he’d just heard.


“Now get me in a bath. I stink.”


Neville smiled and turned, still not meeting Harry’s eyes. He bustled about the guest bathroom, running a hot tub full of bubbles, pulling down towels, shampoo, and soap. After watching Harry stand numbly by the tub, he clinically began unfastening Harry’s shoes and pants. Helping him bathe like the nursing intern he once was. Harry seemed to be in a hazy dream. He relished Neville taking control in this small thing, doing for him so that he didn't have to think about it, be responsible for it.


“Neville.” Harry stood with a towel around his waist and another over his hair. “I want you to make love to me.”


Neville shook his head and looked away. “You know I don't top.”


“I know,” Harry answered softly. But this was something he needed. He always took the aggressive lead during their liaisons in the past. He always took what he wanted from Neville, and then left when he was done. He wanted it to be different this time. It had to be different this time. “Look at me.” When Neville did, he said, “Ride me, then. I need you to take control of me."


Neville nodded, then led the way to Harry’s bed.




"Lie still, then," Neville whispered, arranging his naked weight on top of Harry's body. "Let me love you," he begged. He kissed at Harry's ear while running one hand through Harry's damp mop of hair, and the other down Harry's arm. "Let me do the work."


Tears streamed out of his eyes as he kissed his way down Harry's neck, around his collar bone, and down his chest to finally fasten on a dark brown nipple. He prayed to Merlin and Morganna, to all muggle gods and goddesses, to somehow help him heal his broken Harry. He kissed and dragged his teeth along Harry's sunken abdomen. Harry gasped when he dipped his tongue into his navel. Neville felt Harry's hand slide into his hair when he dragged his tongue in a long slick lick down the length of Harry's cock. Harry groaned and moved restlessly in answer.


Neville sat up and straddled Harry's thighs as he applied oil to Harry's cock, gripping it in his fist and running it slowly up and down. Green eyes, half closed, regarded him. Then, holding Harry's cock, he guided it into himself, slowly lowering his ass over his Harry. He couldn't help the grimace of pain.


"You didn't -! Let me stretch you!" Harry grabbed at Neville's hips but it was too late, he was fully sheathed.


Neville put a hand over Harry's mouth, but remained upright. "Not a word," he hissed as his anus began to adjust. "Not one goddam word." And then he began to move and let his hands fall away as his head fell back in ecstasy. He settled into a rhythm then looked down at Harry. "I'm riding you like I want to ride you." He leaned forward and his hands clutched at Harry's pectorals. "Don't. You. Move."


He rolled his hips forward, up, and back, slowly, repeatedly. They panted in unison. Then, as Harry's breath began to quicken, so did Neville's pace. He felt Harry jerk within him and under him.


"Oh!" Harry said. "Oh!" he said again. Then he screamed Neville's name. And Neville knew an awful truth about himself. He would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, let Harry go again. He'd die before he let that happen. He'd kill before he let that happen.


He caught Harry's hand as it tried to grasp his needy cock. "Not yet," he murmured, dragging Harry's hands above his head on the bed. He leaned down for a kiss, and Harry's head rose to meet him. Oh, the sweet joy of Harry's tongue entwining with his own. And gods, the sensations of Harry's wet sloppy wanton perfect kiss. Harry tried to speak and Neville kissed him. He tried to say something else, and Neville kissed him again. Neville kissed him short and long, with lips and tongue, silent and humming, until Harry laughed and the jerk of his stomach pulled his cock up and into action again, and then they were fucking again, so naturally, seamlessly. Continuously fucking and laughing and smiling and kissing and licking and now Neville allowed Harry's hand to find his cock, to grasp and squeeze and tug it, until they both screamed their lover's name.


Neville, nearly passed out from the intensity of his orgasm, of having Harry inside him. So it took a moment before he realized that Harry was whispering to him. Was, in fact clutching him tightly and crying, "Never let me go. Never let me go. Never let me go."


"Yes, love," he sighed in answer, snaking his arms underneath Harry to hold him tight, laying his head against Harry's chest, wrapping his legs around Harry's. "I'll never let you go."






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